At least twenty years ago, all the phones in the offices here at Surfer Dude had a sticker on them. It was carefully nestled between the pillars holding up the handset and said something helpful and obvious like "in case of emergency, dial 911." Over time digital phones replaced the old push-button ones and one day a few years ago somebody in an office somewhere called me and asked if they could have another sticker to put on their new phone. By that time nobody had any idea where the originals had come from and, as the safety person, I was the logical one to do something about it.
The idea stayed on my project list until I acquired an injury prevention minion. I needed some probationary projects to give him and phone stickers was a nice easy one to start with. Over the course of two years he learned a lot about the frustrations of dealing with our corporate bureaucracy and how even the simplest and most innocent idea can be turned into a nightmare of endless delay, ludicrous digressions for inane input, and multiplying expectations of increasingly irrelevant approvals. It was an experience that I hope will serve him well in his years of employment to come, and yes, of course I knew exactly which wolves I was throwing him to - that's my job as a supervisor.
Eventually he brought forth a sticker carefully designed to fit on the current phone models, carrying several helpful numbers and two basic URLs for safety and emergency information in a pleasing combination of fonts and colors. 5000 of them were printed and mailed out in bundles to department offices. Each bundle had one page accompanying it explaining that they should be put on or near each phone, with a two-step instruction set. It was everything that everyone already knows about how to put a sticker on anything at all; we saved money and trees by assuming that at each mailstop the person distributing the stickers would post the flyer if it was the sort of place where people needed directions to peel off a backing. I didn't think that was going to be much of a problem.
Until the staff meeting this morning. At our office, the person receiving the mail had made the erroneous assumption that we didn't need multiple copies of the instructions being made. So there were complaints that nobody had received any instructions and as the obvious result, they didn't know what to do with these stickers that told them what the number for 911 is, and when to call it (review: "in case of emergency"). Carrie and the Pointy-Haired Boss went on to ask my minion to please email them the details on what to do with a sticker that goes on a phone and how to apply it. Because they couldn't figure it out on their own and apparently see nothing shameful in admitting that in public.
Yes, we're the people who respond when you call for emergency assistance. I hope you feel better about that now. On the bright side, if I overestimated the skill set of our entire workforce as badly as I did my cow-orkers', we're not likely to get an increased number of calls as a result of this initiative.